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Bilingual students' learning in science: Language, gestures and phyiscal artefacts
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Mathematics and Science Education.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2300-7224
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this thesis is to examine how language, gestures and physical artefacts are used in science classes with emergent bilingual students who do not share the same minority language as their classmates or teachers. The purpose is to contribute to findings that can enhance emergent bilingual students’ learning in science. The data consist of classroom observations in one 3rd grade (9–10 years old) and one 7th grade (13–14 years old) science class. In addition, the students in the 7th grade were interviewed. Whole-class instruction was carried out monolingually in Swedish. The students typically made meaning of the activities without any language limitations during conversations following an initiation, response and evaluation pattern (IRE). However, during longer conversations the students’ language repertoire in Swedish frequently limited their possibilities to express themselves. During group-work activities, students with the same minority language worked together and used both of their languages. One strategy used among the students to overcome language limitations was translating unfamiliar words into their minority language. In general, this supported the students’ learning in science. Occasionally, the students made incorrect translations of scientific concepts. The interviews with the students demonstrated how monolingual exams may limit emergent bilingual students’ achievements in science. When students’ language proficiency limited their possibility to express themselves, the students showed what they meant by using gestures. This resulted in the continuation of the lessons as both other students and teachers drew on the used gestures to talk about the science content. The physical artefacts implied that the students experienced the science content by actually seeing it, which the teacher then drew on to introduce how the phenomena or process in question could be expressed in scientific language. When students’ proficiency in the language of instruction limited their possibilities to make meaning, using physical artefacts enabled them to experience unfamiliar words being related to the science content and learn what they mean. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Mathematics and Science Education, Stockholm University , 2017. , 78 p.
Series
Doctoral thesis from the department of mathematics and science education, 16
Keyword [en]
science education, bilingual students, mediating means, language, gestures, physical artefacts, learning, meaning-making, practical epistemological analysis, translanguaging, continuity
National Category
Other Natural Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145410ISBN: 978-91-7649-880-4 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7649-881-1 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-145410DiVA: diva2:1128962
Public defence
2017-09-15, Vivi Täckholmsalen (Q-salen), NPQ-huset, Svante Arrhenius väg 20, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 4: Submitted.

Available from: 2017-08-23 Created: 2017-07-31 Last updated: 2017-08-17Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Language Use in a Multilingual Class: a Study of the Relation Between Bilingual Students’ Languages and Their Meaning-Making in Science
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Language Use in a Multilingual Class: a Study of the Relation Between Bilingual Students’ Languages and Their Meaning-Making in Science
2017 (English)In: Research in science education, ISSN 0157-244X, E-ISSN 1573-1898Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this study, we examine how bilingual students in elementary school use their languages and what this means for their meaning-making in science. The class was multilingual with students bilingual in different minority languages and the teacher monolingual in Swedish. The analysis is based on a pragmatic approach and the theory of translanguaging. The science content was electricity, and the teaching involved class instruction and hands-on activities in small groups. The findings of the study are divided into two categories, ‘students’ conversations with the teacher’ and ‘student’s conversations with each other’. Since the class was multilingual, the class instruction was carried out in Swedish. Generally, when the conversations were characterised by an initiation, response and evaluation pattern, the students made meaning of the activities without any language limitations. However, when the students, during whole class instruction, were engaged in conversations where they had to argue, discuss and explain their ideas, their language repertoire in Swedish limited their possibilities to express themselves. During hands-on activities, students with the same minority language worked together and used both of their languages as resources. In some situations, the activities proceeded without any visible language limitations. In other situations, students’ language repertoire limited their possibilities to make meaning of the activities despite being able to use both their languages. What the results mean for designing and conducting science lessons in a multilingual class is discussed. 

Keyword
Science education, bilingualism, language use, meaning-making
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145301 (URN)10.1007/s11165-016-9597-8 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-07-24 Created: 2017-07-24 Last updated: 2017-07-31Bibliographically approved
2. Science education in a bilingual class: problematising a translational practice
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Science education in a bilingual class: problematising a translational practice
2016 (English)In: Cultural Studies of Science Education, ISSN 1871-1502, E-ISSN 1871-1510Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

In this article we examine how bilingual students construe relations between everyday language and the language of science. Studies concerning bilingual students language use in science class have mainly been conducted in settings where both the teacher and the students speak the same minority language. In this study data was collected in a class consisting of students aged 13–14. All students had Turkish as their minority language, whereas the teacher’s minority language was Bosnian. The class was observed when they were working with acids and bases. In addition, the students were interviewed in groups.They were asked about how they use their languages during science lessons and then asked to describe and explain scientific phenomena and processes that had been a part of the observed lessons. For the analysis, practical epistemology analysis and the theory of translanguaging were used. The results show how the students’ everyday language repertoire may limit their possibilities to make meaning of science. In particular, the teacher’s practice of facilitating and supporting students’ understanding of science content by relating it to concrete examples took another direction since the everyday words he used were not a part of the students’ language repertoire. The study also shows how the students used their minority language as a resource to translate words from Swedish to Turkish in order to proceed with the science activities. However, translating scientific concepts was problematic and led to the students’ descriptions of the concepts not being in line with how they are viewed in science. Finally, the study also demonstrates how monolingual exams may limit bilingual students’ achievements in science. The study contributes by presenting and discussing circumstances that need to be taken into consideration when planning and conducting science lessons in classes where the teacher and the student do not share the same minority language. 

Abstract [sv]

I denna artikel undersöker vi hur tvåspråkiga elever skapar relationer mellan vardagsspråket och det naturvetenskapliga språket. Studier som behandlar hur tvåspråkiga elever använder sina språk under naturvetenskapslektionerna har huvudsakligen bedrivits i tvåspråkiga klassrum där bådee läraren och eleverna talar samma minoritetsspråk. I denna studie har data har samlats in i en klass bestående av 13-14 år gamla elever. Samtliga elever hade turkiska som minoritetsspråk medan lärarens minoritetsspråk var bosniska. Klassen observerades när de arbetade med syror och baser. Därrefter genomfördes gruppintervjuer med eleverna där de fick berätta om hur de använde sina språk under naturvetenskapslektionerna samt beskriva och förklara naturvetenskapliga fenomen och processer som hade behandlats under de observerade lektionerna. Materialet analyserades genom praktisk epistemologisk analys och teorin om translanguaging (the theory of translanguaging). Studien visar hur lärarens strävan att stödja elevernas lärande i naturvetenskap genom att använda ett vardagligt språk och vardagliga exempel tog en annan riktning eftersom de vardagsord han använde inte var en del av elevernas språkrepertoar. Studien visar också hur eleverna använde sitt minoritetsspråk som en resursför att översätta ord från svenska till turkiska. Att översätta naturvetenskapliga begrepp var mer problematiskt och ledde till att elevernas beskrivningar av begreppen inte var i linje med hur de betraktas inom naturvetenskapen. Slutligen visar studien även hur enspråkiga prov kan begränsa tvåspråkiga elevers resultat i de naturvetenskapliga ämnena. Undersökningen bidrar genom att presentera och diskutera omständigheter som behövs tas i beaktande när man planerar och genomför naturvetenskapliga lektioner i klasser därr lärare och elever inte delar samma minoritetsspråk. 

Keyword
Bilingualism, everyday language, scientific language, science education, translanguaging
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136790 (URN)10.1007/s11422-016-9747-3 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-12-15 Created: 2016-12-15 Last updated: 2017-07-31
3. Gesticulating science: Emergent bilingual students’ use of gestures
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Gesticulating science: Emergent bilingual students’ use of gestures
2017 (English)In: Journal of Research in Science Teaching, ISSN 0022-4308, E-ISSN 1098-2736Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

This article examines how emergent bilingual students used gestures in science class, and the consequences of students’ gestures when their language repertoire limited their possibilities to express themselves. The study derived from observations in two science classes in Sweden. In the first class, 3rd grade students (9–10 years old) were involved in a unit concerning electricity. The second class consisted of 7th grade students (13–14 years old) working with acids and bases. Data were analyzed by using practical epistemological analysis (PEA). When students’ language proficiency limited their possibility to express themselves, using gestures resulted in the continuation of the science activities. Furthermore, both peers and teachers drew on the used gestures to talk about the science content. In some situations, the meaning of the gestures needed to be negotiated. Regardless, the gestures were always related to language. Both students and teachers participated in this process, but the teachers directed the communication towards the goal of the lessons: learning how to talk science. The study contributes to the field by showing the importance of paying attention to and valuing bilingual students’ use of gestures as a way to express scientific knowledge. In addition, it demonstrates how teachers might draw on students’ gestures to teach science and discusses the importance of creating multimodal learning environments. 

Keyword
science education, bilingualism, emergent bilingual students, gestures, mediating means, scientific language
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145303 (URN)10.1002/tea.21415 (DOI)
Available from: 2017-07-24 Created: 2017-07-24 Last updated: 2017-07-31
4. Jumping pepper and electrons in the shoe: Physical artefacts in a multilingual science class
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Jumping pepper and electrons in the shoe: Physical artefacts in a multilingual science class
(English)In: Article in journal (Refereed) Submitted
Abstract [en]

This article concerns how teachers can use physical artefacts as mediating means to support emergent bilingual students’ learning in science class. The data consist of non-participant observations in a Swedish 3rd grade (9-10 years old) science class. All students were bilingual, but in different minority languages, and the teacher was monolingual in Swedish. The study focused on four students, all of whom had Turkish as their minority language. During the observations, the science content was electricity and the lessons were conducted by using physical artefacts, such as wires, bulbs and batteries. The study takes its stance in the ideas of Dewey and sociocultural approaches, implying that students’ learning is viewed as situational. For the analysis, practical epistemology analysis (PEA) was used. The teacher used physical artefacts in two different ways. First, the physical artefacts implied that the students experienced the science content by actually seeing it. The students talked about their observations in everyday language, which the teacher then drew on to introduce how the phenomena or process in question could be expressed in scientific language. Second, when students’ proficiency in the language of instruction limited their possibilities to make meaning, using physical artefacts enabled them to experience unfamiliar words being related to the science content and thus learn their meaning. The study findings contribute to knowledge concerning how teachers can create learning contexts where physical artefacts are used to mediate scientific meaning. 

National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Science Education
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145304 (URN)
Available from: 2017-07-24 Created: 2017-07-24 Last updated: 2017-07-31Bibliographically approved

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